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New Air NZ boss Luxon sees profit in Kiwis flying to the US

'America's performance is strong - our business has increased dramatically.'

Hannah Lynch
Tue, 19 Jun 2012

BUSINESSDESK: Air New Zealand's new chief executive sees profit in Kiwis heading to the US as the airline targets a $110 million lift in earnings from its long-haul services by 2015.

Air NZ, slated for a government sell-down, today named Christopher Luxon as new chief executive. He is the airline’s general manager for international and will replace Rob Fyfe at the end of the year.

In February, the airline announced a series of initiatives to improve profitability after first-half earnings fell 61% to $98 million on higher fuel costs and a fall in international passenger numbers.

It said it was looking to explore opportunities in South America, Asia and North America, while deepening its Chinese network.

"North America has experienced huge growth in the last 12-months - our projections see huge growth," Mr Luxon said in a conference call. "It's just how we are going to access it."

"America's performance is strong - our business has increased dramatically," he said.

"We are constantly looking at where best we can maximise our return for the company and how we can strengthen our existing routes."

Kiwis holidaying in America rose 5.6% to 8620 in March compared to the same month a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Americans travelling to New Zealand fell 1.1%.

In May, Air NZ said it would add a third weekly flight between Auckland and Honolulu in October, increasing the total number of seats available on the route by 50%.

Shares in the airline rose 1.2% to 87.5 cents. The stock has shed 21% in the past year.

It is rated "outperform" based on the consensus of seven analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters.

Hannah Lynch
Tue, 19 Jun 2012
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New Air NZ boss Luxon sees profit in Kiwis flying to the US